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20 Quick and Easy Dinners You Can Cook With 20 Minutes

20 Quick and Easy Dinners You Can Cook With 20 Minutes

After long days at work or ferrying kids to and from play dates, activities and school, I seldom have the time or the energy to figure out dinner. I enjoy cooking for the family but with a never-ending to-do list, the last thing you want to be faced with is: “What’s for dinner?”

I often feel that I need an extra day to get through the week. However, when my daughter was born, I started doing weekly meal plans and it has helped me immensely to put healthy meals on the table — even on days when I was sleep deprived and exhausted. I shop accordingly and it takes the guesswork out of preparing weeknight dinners. I often do part of the preparation on weekends, such as chopping vegetables or making sauces which can be frozen or roasting a whole chicken to use through the week.

So, here are 20 of my favorite speedy, easy, delicious, healthy and child-friendly dinner recipes that I keep handy when planning meals:

1. White Chicken Chilli Soup

Delicious-White-Chicken-Chili-Recipe-on-lilluna.com-chili-soup

    With the weather turning colder, a steaming hot bowl of soup is just the comfort I need after a long, crazy day. Children  enjoy it, though you might want to leave out the green chilies if your family doesn’t like the heat. And what’s more, it’s a one pot recipe which means less washing up! That ticks all the boxes for me.

    2. Veggie Polenta Mini Pizza

    polenta-pizza-420

      This is even quicker if you have pre-made pesto at home. Add toppings of your choice and enjoy a healthy pizza dinner.

      3. 10 Minute Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas

      black bean and corn quessadillas

        I use whole wheat or corn tortillas for quesadillas. Then, I make the filling on a weekend and freeze batches for later use. You can substitute black beans for your preferred protein and add other veggies too. (Red pepper also works well.)

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        4. Easy Chicken and Couscous Skillet Dinner

        Easy-Chicken-and-Cous-Cous-Skillet-Dinner-00

          Couscous cooks quickly so it is a favorite staple of mine for weeknight meals. This recipe uses jumbo or Israeli couscous and rotisserie chicken. Or, you could simply use the leftovers from your Sunday roast.

          5. Tomato, Spinach & Feta Frittata

          tomatofritatta2

            This popular family breakfast or brunch makes a fantastic weeknight dinner option. The thought of salty feta and sweet, juicy tomatoes with the garlicky spinach makes my mouth water. And using a cast iron skillet means it’s a one-pan dish!

            6. Prawn And Spinach Spaghetti

            prawn and spinach spaghetti

              I love this recipe as I have most of these ingredients at home so it’s really handy towards the end of the week when my fridge is almost empty. I use whole-wheat spaghetti and frozen prawns in my version. And if I’ve run out of spinach I just substitute with fresh basil.

              7. Tuna and White Bean Pita

              white bean and tuna pitas

                This super low effort recipe is unbelievably easy. My 4-year-old can make this meal. It is a wholesome and tasty store cupboard recipe that your kids will savor. It involves no cooking, just opening a few cans and assembling your meal.

                8. Salmon Skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

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                salmon_kebabs_07

                  Salmon and cucumber are a classic combination. This recipe can be served with any grain of your choice or a simple salad that you whip up while the salmon is cooking. You can also add some veggies to the skewers.

                  9. Singapore Fried Rice

                  singapore fried rice

                    I love Asian food and this quick fried rice has become a staple in my house because it’s a meal by itself. I usually have cooked leftover rice in the fridge so this is really a quick meal. You do need day old cold rice for it; otherwise, it’ll become soggy and sticky. You can also add leftover chicken or even bacon. Enjoy!

                    10. Super Quick Fish Curry

                    fish curry brown rice

                      Fish is my favorite for quick meals as it’s healthy and takes very little time to cook. I always have a jar of Thai curry paste and coconut milk lying around in my cupboard, so this is a no-brainer, really. You can substitute fish with a protein of your choice. The coconut milk makes it mildly spicy but adds less paste if you want it milder.

                      11. Shells & Cheese (with Bacon & Peas)

                      bacon and peas

                        Children relish Mac and cheese. But on a school night, who has the time to make a batch from scratch? Here is a cheat’s version — no roux, no baking, just pasta in cheese sauce. I add garlic to mine and use low-fat milk and skip the butter. Also, I use whatever cheese I have on hand and whole-wheat pasta — but go ahead and indulge if you like.

                        12. Vegan Sweet Pepper and Mushroom Soba Noodle Stir Fry

                        vegan-sweet-pepper-mushroom-soba-noodle-stir-fry-close

                          I like to have a vegetarian dinner at least twice a week but feel free to add meat of your choice to it. You can use any vegetables you have for this recipe. In fact, it’s a great way to use up vegetables at the end of the week. Leave out the Sambal Olek (spicy chili sauce) if you don’t like spice.

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                          13. Simple Yet Scrumptious Rice And Salmon Pilaf

                          salmon-rice-pilaf

                            I use brown basmati for this recipe and cook it by the absorption method. Many people find cooking rice difficult, but it’s not tough. Remember different varieties of rice need different amounts of water to cook.  For instance, brown rice needs more water than white rice. Use measuring cups and with a little practice you’ll be an expert soon.

                            14. 15 Minute Lasagna

                            20 mins meals1

                              Yes indeed! 15 minutes only. With a few clever shortcuts and all in one pan, dinner is served. Isn’t that just perfect?

                              15. Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

                              chicken_caesar_salad_wraps

                                I love tortilla wraps because they are so versatile. I use wholemeal tortillas to make these light yet filling wraps. My child loves these for lunch or dinner so this is my “go-to” recipe — especially when we have roast chicken leftovers.

                                16. Arugula Lentil Salad from Heaven (Vegan)

                                arugula-lentil-salad

                                  I love peppery Arugula (rocket). This healthy recipe combines lentils, nuts and rocket in a delightful salad. Add raisins or sultanas if you wish.

                                  17. 20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

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                                  20-Minute-Cheesy-Chicken-Enchilada-Soup-6

                                    Nothing beats a warm, creamy, spicy soup on a chilly evening. You can use a ready-made enchilada sauce for this recipe, but I recommend you make one on the weekend and have it ready in the fridge when you fancy some soup. The key to quick meals on weeknights is in planning meals and some simple prep. It really doesn’t require much time on the weekend as cooking and freezing full meals, but will make your life much easier.

                                    18. One-Pan Veggie Fajita Pasta

                                    fajita pasta

                                      We adore fajitas and as I set about making some one evening, I realized the tortillas had gone stale. I had everything prepped already and a quick online search landed me this delightful recipe with pasta instead. Saved by google again! Since then it’s part of our family meals. I use whole-wheat pasta. It’s seriously yummy!

                                      19. Easy 20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli

                                      teriyaki-chicken-broccoli-tablefortwoblog-5

                                        This is a yummy teriyaki sauce recipe. This is a winning combination but by all means feel free to swap the chicken for other protein of your choice and broccoli with your favorite vegetable. Serve it with brown and wild rice or red rice or a combination of the three for a wholesome meal.

                                        20. Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Fritters

                                        Kale-Sweetpotatoe-and-Quinoa-Fritters_platter-ready-to-eat1

                                          Loaded with the goodness of kale, quinoa and sweet potato, this recipe is a great way to sneak these super foods into your little ones. Serve with a simple green salad for dinner.

                                          Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanasek via picjumbo.com

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                                          Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                          Feeling tired all the time?

                                          Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                                          I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                                          Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                          If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                          In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                          What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                          If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                          Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                          • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                                          • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                                          • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                          • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                                          • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                          • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                                          • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                          Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                                          Unfortunately, yes!

                                          Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                                          Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                                          Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                                          Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                          Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                          Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                                          1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                                          2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                          3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                          The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                                          It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                          Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                          Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                                          If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                                          Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                                          Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                                          But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                                          Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                          • Difficulty concentrating
                                          • Low stamina
                                          • Difficulty sleeping
                                          • Anxiety
                                          • Low motivation

                                          These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                          Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                          How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                          The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                          Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                          So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                                          The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                          Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                          Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                                          If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                                          And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                          It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                                          4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                          Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                          1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                          2. Exercising regularly
                                          3. Using stressbusters
                                          4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                          So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                                          After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                          In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                                          I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                          Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                          • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                                          • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                                          • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                          • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                          The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                                          And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                                          But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                                          L — Living Healthy

                                          Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                                          So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                                          In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                                          As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                          Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                          1. Unplug

                                          Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                                          So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                          2. Unwind

                                          Do something to relax.

                                          Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                                          3. Get Comfortable

                                          Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                          Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                                          Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                          Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                                          If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                                          Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                                          This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                          E — Exercise

                                          Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                          That’s what happened in my case.

                                          But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                                          As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                                          My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                                          That made sense to me.

                                          So, I decided to swim.

                                          I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                                          Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                                          Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                                          So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                          If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                          A — Attitude

                                          Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                          When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                                          Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                                          Breathing.

                                          But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                                          Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                                          1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                                          2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                                          3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                                          4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                                          5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                                          6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                                          This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                          When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                                          Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                                          N — Nutrition

                                          Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                          If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                                          Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                                          For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                          Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                                          Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                          1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                          2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                                          3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                                          4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                                          5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                          6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                                          7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                                          8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                                          9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                                          Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                          That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                          Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                                          If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                                          If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                                          • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                                          • Regular Exercise You Love
                                          • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                                          • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                                          Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                          More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                                          Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                          [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                          [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                          [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                          [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                          [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                          [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                          [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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